It’s not the one we will hear from President Obama Wednesday night. PETA’s 2010 State of the Union Undress, in which a woman strips while making a rousing speech about all the progressive actions for animals in 2009—and all the work that remains to be done in the coming years—proves, once again, that when you want to get a message across, nothing beats nudity.
It’s a shame that it has to be this way. Although many courageous and compassionate men and women will voluntarily take their clothes off to attract attention for causes they care about, much as Lady Godiva once did, they should not have to. The facts alone should be compelling enough to make the media and the public sit up and take notice.
But in tabloid America, it takes more than iron-clad facts and heart-breaking footage of animal abuse to compete with celebrity gossip, political scandals, and high-profile sports stories. Like it or not, sex sells, and racy, provocative actions reach people more than straightforward news stories.
When you think about it, it takes silly shenanigans, sex scandals, and controversial stunts to make many celebrities stand out. What chance do “ordinary” individuals have to convince others to watch depressing videos, listen to sobering facts, and change behaviors that they don’t necessarily wish to change? PETA has learned from experience that simply pleading with the media to report on cruelty to animals is ineffective. It often takes colorful and controversial tactics to grab headlines and motivate people to take action.
During the State of the Union Undress, PETA’s representative tries to titillate the audience, playfully holding their attention while educating them about serious issues like animal experimentation, factory farms, fur, and circuses. If even one person changes just one habit that harms animals after watching the powerful footage (set to John Feldmann’s “Free Me”) which follows the speech, we’ll be one step closer to a kinder nation. (If you’re under 18, or you simply don’t wish to watch the State of the Union Undress, you can still watch the “Free Me” video on PETATV.)
Not surprisingly, PETA’s third-annual State of the Union Undress is attracting widespread attention and captivating countless viewers. While not everyone agrees with the tactics, few people will argue that the video isn’t reaching people who might otherwise turn a blind eye to animal suffering.